Allen returns to NH squad; Austin sits at top of MSC
North Harrison junior Laura Allen peeled off the warm-ups for the first time this season after sitting the first 14 games out while rehabbing a pre-season injury to put in an impressive performance, despite the Lady Cats falling at home to Class 2A No. 4 Austin 55-49 last Wednesday.
Lady Cats coach Hal Pearson said Allen has been coming to the gym about 6:30 each morning to shoot around. The extra hoops paid off to lead North Harrison in scoring with 17 points.
‘She wasn’t rusty by any means,’ said Pearson. ‘She’s looked good in practice.’
Against Austin, North Harrison came out with a solid defensive plan to slow the Indiana’s high scoring team (75 points per game) and the their stand-out sophomore Katy McIntosh. Holding Austin to 55 points was the lowest the Lady Eagles put out all season.
After a slow start to the game, North Harrison turned up the defense in the second half. They tied the game at 39-all. Austin pushed the lead to seven afterward, but Jessica Mosier tried her best to keep North Harrison within reach. The senior scored eight consecutive points for North Harrison, pulling her team to within two at 49-47 with 1:44 to play.
On the next Lady Cats’ possession, Austin freshman Kelly Hollan came up with a steal and two points. Kayla Lambert responded with a pair of free throws with 45.3 seconds left, trimming the lead back to two. Yet in the clutch, McIntosh scored the final four Austin points, helping the Lady Eagles (14-3, 8-0 MSC) escape Ramsey with a win and a solid one-game lead in the Mid-Southern Conference race. McIntosh finished with 18 points.
The win would have been nice for North Harrison, but the importance of having Allen back on the court should pay off in the long run.
‘We played very well tonight,’ Pearson said. ‘We also had, in the process of the game, changing of spots because Laura came back tonight.’
Allen ran the point in previous seasons, but junior Wynn Shroyer took over those duties this season and has done a solid job for Pearson.
‘She’s (Allen) not played the two (guard) before,’ Pearson said. ‘She’s intermixed with Wynn. There’s some things differently that it’s taking time for her to recognize them.’
Pearson said he likes the idea of both rotating guard positions, which can be utilized against a press, and allow both to have more open looks at the basket. Depth should be stronger with Allen back, but senior Katie Voyles missed the Austin game due to an infection but is expected to be back soon.
‘If we get everybody healthy, we start to get fairly deep on our bench and do some things that way,’ Pearson added. ‘By sectional time, I think we’ll be rolling around and looking around and be looking fairly solid and back in the flow we were in into the summer.’
Early in the Austin game, North Harrison made its push after the half. Relentless Lady Cat defenders didn’t allow a point to the state’s most prolific scoring team in the first five minutes. During the span, North Harrison scored 11 straight points, seven from Allen, to turn a nine-point deficit into a 31-29 lead.
Austin finally got on the board with a Brittany Smith basket.
The teams traded baskets until the early stages of the fourth quarter, when McIntosh scored on four consecutive free-throw attempts to push the lead to seven. The Lady Eagles maintained a hold on the lead and eventually picked up the key MSC win.
The start to the game was a typical slow one for North Harrison. The Lady Cats had Austin playing at a comfortable pace, forcing them into a slower half-court game, but North Harrison couldn’t get going offensively. Austin started the game on a 10-2 run before Lambert got the Lady Cats’ offense started with a hoop. Later in the first, Allen came off the bench to score a pair of buckets, giving North Harrison a solid push.
North Harrison continued to switch defenses on the Lady Eagles, mainly attempting to deny McIntosh open drives while keying on Austin’s ace 3-point shooters. The Lady Cats pulled to within two at 17-15 when Sasha Grangier picked off a pass and converted the fast break layup. Austin then went on its only legit run at its preferred fast pace, scoring seven unanswered points before going into halftime with a 29-20 advantage.
Allen led North Harrison in scoring with 17, followed by Mosier’s 10. Grangier added nine, and Lambert scored eight.
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